Sarri backs Higuain after red-card fury


Maurizio Sarri defended Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain after his star striker reacted furiously to being sent off during Sunday's 3-1 loss at Udinese.

Higuain scored his 30th Serie A goal of the season to equalise at Stadio Friuli but a brace from Bruno Fernandes - who converted and missed a pair of first-half penalties - and a Cyril Thereau strike before the hour landed a damaging blow against Napoli's title hopes.

They are six points behind defending champions Juventus with seven matches remaining and they will be without Higuain next time out against Verona after he picked up a second booking in a clash with Felipe.

The Argentina striker responded by laying hands on referee Massimiliano Irrati before attempting to take up his grievances with Felipe and eventually being led from the field by a clutch of Napoli team-mates.

Sarri, who was sent to the stands earlier on by the officials, then watched Higuain turn his fury towards a member of Napoli's coaching staff.

But he told Sky Italia: "Gonzalo is attached to this shirt, he felt the victim of an injustice and reacted with anger.

"I think the Italian league has seen much worse."

Speaking to Mediaset Premium, Sarri cited the long journey back from international duty endured by Higuain and the rest of his South American contingent as a factor.

"It was a difficult game, Udinese played perhaps their best match of the season," he said.

"It was impossible to do better. We have many South American players who had a single workout with us having spent dozens of hours on the plane.

"The defeat will make us eat anger for a day, but it will also give us the right fuel for the next seven games. We want to end the season at a high level."